Sponsored by Reynolds
Whittlebury Hall Hotel, near Towcester, Northamptonshire
Whittlebury Hall's conference and banqueting (C&B) team, comprising both sales and operations staff, impressed our judges through their sales growth and impressive loyalty.
Whittlebury Hall is an independent four-AA-star hotel and venue, featuring 213 bedrooms, five suites, a leisure club and a purpose-built event and learning facility, which includes nearly 50 meeting and syndicate rooms, as well as two larger suites capable of accommodating up to 500 delegates.
Although it is located adjacent to Silverstone Formula One race circuit and easily accessible from both the M1 and M40, our judges felt the remote location meant the C&B team have to work extra hard to attract business, making their achievements all the more notable.
In 2014 alone the team managed 1,900 events, with a roll-call of longstanding clients that includes delivery firm DHL, the Association of Chief Police Officers and Nestlé. A personal event co-ordinator is assigned to each event and, in recognition of increasingly time-poor bookers, the sales team has a library of images for each of the bookable rooms, along with details of dimensions, to be sent by email.
It is clear that the C&B team understands and uses the versatility of the bookable spaces to maximise their potential and to meet the different needs of their clients. For Core Bikes, which runs an annual event at the venue, the lounge and restaurants were converted into exhibition halls, while the syndicate rooms were used by retailers to create temporary shops.
Meetings Benchmark Tracker, which tracks customer service, tone and approach in calls, emails, proposals and sales conversions, also wowed our judges. When the programme was introduced in January 2013, the results were at 41.1%, but the C&B team has since exceeded its targets and achieved an average score of 90% for last year.
In addition, marketing of the hotel's Exclusively Yours corporate rewards programme helped to generate £750,000 of incremental revenue and a return of 25 to one, while the sales team saw their conversion rate increase by 9% in 2014 year-on-year, while contracted business grew 16%.
What the judges said
"Whittlebury Hall presented us with up-to-date examples of what its staff does every day to ensure profitability is backed by great and passionate staff service."
Nuno César De Sá, hotel manager, Rudding Park
"A comprehensive entry with a focus on the team and outstanding guest feedback. There were clear objectives in terms of training and development of the team, while quality is measured both internally and externally with impressive and consistent results."
Garry Baldwin, senior inspector, AA Hotel Services
"The team's passion was evident, which highlighted good initiatives and a willingness to go above and beyond."
Lorraine Jarvie, regional operations director, Hotel du Vin
"Their passion has enabled them to show impressive growth in revenue, diversity in business and team development."
Gareth Bush, head of food, beverage and commercial, Wales Millennium Centre
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Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa, Manchester
Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire
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